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Rachel Cole, Eva Leslie, Adrian Bauman, Maria Donald and Neville Owen

Background:

Walking is integral to strategies to promote physical activity. We identified socio-demographic variations in walking for transport, and for recreation or exercise.

Methods:

Representative population data (n = 3392) from Australia were collected using computer assisted telephone interviewing, to examine adults’ participation in moderate- or brisk-paced walking for transport and walking for recreation or exercise; walking “sufficient” to meet the current public health guideline (≥ 150 min/wk); and, the contributions of total walking to meeting the guideline for total physical activity.

Results:

Rates of sufficient walking for transport (10% for men, 9% for women) were lower than those for walking for recreation or exercise (14% for both genders). Few socio-demographic differences emerged. Men over age 60 y were significantly less likely (OR = 0.40) to walk for transport; men age 45 to 59 y were more likely (OR = 1.56) to walk for recreation or exercise. Walking contributed more toward meeting the current public health guideline among women (15% to 21%) than among men (6% to 8%).

Conclusions:

There is potential for socially equitable increases in participation, through a focus on both walking for transport and on walking for recreation or exercise; attention to gender differences would be helpful.

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Rachel Cole, Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Alison Carver, Neville Owen and Takemi Sugiyama

Older adults are often considered more vulnerable to environmental factors than are younger adults. We examined whether the associations of objectively measured environmental attributes (Walk Score; street connectivity) with walking for transport differed between younger- (25–44 years), middle- (45–64 years), and older-aged (65–84 years) adults, using a large Australian sample of 14,656 people. Walk Score and street connectivity were similarly associated with walking (any; 30+ min/day) in all age groups. Contrary to commonly held views, the study did not find any evidence suggesting that older adults may be more sensitive to their environment to get out and walk than are younger adults, at least for the environmental attributes examined in this study. Further research is needed to investigate if there are particular environmental factors that hinder older adults from being active.